Back in May of 2016 we reported on the abduction scam trend. Later that year, we met a young mother on the TD Jakes Show whose 5 year old daughter was digitally kidnapped after someone stole pictures of her from Facebook.
Now, we have seen an uptick in this trend from a story on Madison Wisconsin’s abc affiliate WKOW. In addition, a warning has been issued by the FBI to let parents know about the trend and ways to protect yourself and your children.
From Daily Mail…
“The FBI is warning against ‘virtual kidnappers’ who are scamming vulnerable parents out of thousands of dollars by phoning them and pretending to have snatched their children.
The scam is decades-old but has been reprised by the popularity of social media which allows the con artists to stalk families online and learn details about their lives to make the ruse more believable.
In the past year, a handful of families across the country have spoken out after being targeted.
In one case, a mother wired more than $9,000 to criminals who said they had kidnapped her college student daughter.
On Wednesday, security expert Evy Poumpouras told ABC that scammers had begun targeting families who are busy and open on social media.
‘You have to be very very thoughtful about what you put out there when you post your kids.
‘What are you sharing? Are you sharing their names, where they go to school, whether they like sports.
‘It’s something you really have to think about.
‘You may just post one picture and say “oh I just shared this little piece of information,” but what they do is they build a profile on you, so they go through everything.
‘They use these details against you and you think “this could be true”.
One California mother and her husband received a phone call from a scammer pretending to be part of the Mexican cartel.
They chose to remain anonymous but shared a recording of the phone call they received.
‘You try and f*** with me? I won’t f*** around, I’ll kill your son. ‘
‘As long as you cooperate with my cartel, I promise you your son’s gonna be fine and I’m gonna release him.
‘I need you to get a f**** Western Union or MoneyGram, stop wasting time,’ the scammer said.
They did not say whether they transferred them any money. Another woman in South Carolina, who also chose to remain anonymous, received similar threats.
Maty Montoya, another woman, received a similar call about her brother. She refused to send the scammers the money.
In November last year, mother Tina Pelinski from South Elgin, Illinois, was told her daughter Hannah had been kidnapped.
She was asked to give them all the money she had. She wired them $6,000 before she learned her daughter was safe.
At the same time, Hannah was asked by different scammers to send them money or face going to jail because she had missed jury duty.
Last year, Wendy Mueller from Loudon, Virginia, gave the con artists $9,100 before she realised it was a hoax.
In October last year, FBI agents told how the scam had spread from being carried out by scammers based in Mexico and the southern states to across the entire country.
In some cases, the scams are being carried out by prisoners who want to use the ransom money to buy their way out of jail in Mexico or pay off debts.
FBI agents advise people not to answer the phone unless they recognize the number and to call 911 if they receive threats that a loved one has been kidnapped and they cannot locate them.”